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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  August 20, 2014 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT

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>> that statement from the st. louis county police today that's a remarkable turn of events following the officer go bleep yourself incident. that officer not back on the streets tonight and sounds like he won't be any time soon. an indefinite suspension announced by the department. but tonight, things appear to be even more calm on the streets of ferguson. we do know that things can change at a moment's notice in this tender box town. we hope it stays peaceful and safe. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." good evening, lawrence. >> good evening. without video, we would have never been able to prove that
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happened. attorney general eric holder went to ferguson today while controversy intensifies around the district attorney who refused to step aside and let the shooting of michael brown be handled by a special prosecutor. >> eric holder goes to ferguson. >> meeting with community leaders. >> the family of michael brown. >> particularly wants to reassure african-americans. >> that the justice department is on the case. >> we ran into captain ron johnson. >> their voices are heard. >> calls for the county prosecutor to be replaced. >> i have no intention of walking away. >> people are losing faith in this process. >> the grand jury began hearing testimony today. >> protests outside the courthouse has expressed distrust for the county prosecutor. >> a night of relative calm.
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>> no molotov cocktails. >> no bullets. >> like a lion charging a gazelle. >> the big question, will it get violent today? >> no justice, no peace! thunderstorms are rolling into ferguson, missouri tonight. obviously we'll have some impact we expect on what will be happening on the streets there. after a relatively peaceful night of protests last night, attorney general eric holder visited the area today where he met with the parts of 18-year-old michael brown, who was shot and killed by officer darren wilson on august 9. before meeting with fbi investigators and officials from the u.s. attorney's office, attorney general holder spoke about the federal investigation in the death of michael brown. >> our investigation is different from that which the state is doing.
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we are looking for violations of federal criminal civil rights statutes from what the local investigation is. but we have brought a substantial number of people here who have done a great job and the canvassing they did over the past weekend, they continued to follow leads so that we can do a thorough and fair job in making a determination about what happened on august 9. i'm confident that through the ability of these people we will be able to make a determination about whether or not any federal statutes have in fact been violated. >> the attorney general's day in ferguson also included a meeting with community leaders at st. louis community college and lunch at a local restaurant where he had the chance to speak with missouri highway patrol captain ron johnson who has been leading the security efforts on the ground in ferguson. eric holder met with a handful of students while at the st.
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louis community college. >> he listened to us. i felt he was really listening to us. he really took heed who what we said. >> we just need some answers and changes. and we need some information. by him being here now gave us inspiration. >> eric holder ended his day meeting with officials, including governor jay nixon. joining me from ferguson, trymaine lee, reporter for msnbc.com. you've got some rain there tonight. what else is going on there? >> reporter: not much. the rain has been steady, not too heavy. but you can't see behind me, but it's relatively thin. there's a small but committed group marching up and down through the rain. but ever since last night, it's been quiet and calm. there are only maybe a couple hundred people out here, maybe. very thin crowd tonight. >> we do have live video of the
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area. there isn't much to see as you say. is this kind of where the rhythm of this felt like it was going tonight, into a quieter night there? >> reporter: it really did. from last night, the police shifted tactics. instead of creating lines, forcing people inside, they allowed people to move freely. even when it got a little chippy later in the evening, when one threw a bottle, instead of gassing the entire place with everyone in it, the peaceful protesters, as well as those getting chippy, they targeted individuals and physically extracted them. they maced one person and tackling another one, they hit him with the butt of their gun but extracted him. so they had a much more targeted approach. and it was kind of a shocking confusion strategy. they told us to move this direction, then this direction, the media has to separate. it was a different kind of aggression last night. but without any tear gas,
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without the bullets. it was a much calmer night than nights previous. >> i'm wondering what you've been hearing people on the street talking about today. there's a couple of big stories. first of all, the attorney general of the united states came there today. i'm wondering what impact that has had. and then also, this kind of almost this battle that's breaking out between the governor and the district attorney on the case. they are trading very angry statements on this. >> reporter: in terms of the prosecutor and the governor, it's disconcerting for people. they already don't trust the system. they don't trust the players in the system. they don't have any faith in mcculloch. they don't feel they can properly investigate in a transparent manner. on the other side, i talked to folks in that meeting with attorney general eric holder and they walked away with a sense of hope, that attorney general eric holder understands them. when he came in five years ago, he said civil rights is going to be a hallmark of his time in
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office. and with trayvon martin last year, he relayed his story about his experience as a black man, his experience with police officers. he did it again today in speaking with young college students. so these kids walked away feeling that he is here. had attorney general eric holder not been an african-american, without those experiences, i don't think he would be here today. >> trymaine lee, thanks for joining us. thank you very much. joining us now by phone from ferguson is wesley bell, professor of criminal justice at st. louis community college and a municipal court judge. he met with eric holder earlier today. professor bell, tell us how that meeting went. >> it was a very positive meeting. mr. holder was very inspiring, but also realistic. so it was a very positive meeting. >> i want to listen to what captain ron johnson said about
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eric holder's visit today. let's listen to that. i guess -- >> i think it had a great impact. it shows the people of ferguson, the people of st. louis, to our nation, that their voices are heard, that the highest office in this land is listening to their voices. and is taking a look into the incident that happened here. >> wesley bell, do the people there understand the unprecedented nature of this federal response, that there's never been an incident like this, a killing by police that has received this much presidential comment, this much presidential attention, and this much attention from the attorney general? >> it is a unique situation. as an educator, our classes started this week and i talked to my students about just that. this is one of those, where were you moments in history.
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and i think that out of tragic circumstances like these are opportunities for us to address very important issues that have been for far too long swept under the rug. >> i want to get your local perspective on this public fight that's broken out between the governor and the district attorney in this case, the governor saying that he will not use his power to remove the district attorney and appoint the special prosecutor. the district attorney oddly insisting publicly that the governor does have that legal authority to remove him from the case. in effect, daring the governor to do it. >> you know, i think it's an unfortunate circumstance, set of circumstances. i've had a chance to meet both of them at different times, mr. mcculloch through professional
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circumstances as an attorney. i don't know him personally. but i do know our elected leaders need to set a precedent or tone of confidence so the public feels confident and that justice is being served. and i think that, you know, again, i don't know mr. mcculloch personally, but my one constructive criticism would be that the comments that are coming out of the office don't -- aren't -- they aren't inspiring. they aren't encouraging. they seem to be something other than transparency. and i think that -- understand that the world is watching, and let us feel that this situation is being handled
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transparentally. >> wesley bell, thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thank you. coming up, today is the first day that a grand jury has heard testimony or evidence in the michael brown case. marcia clark will join me on that. and by now you've probably heard reports that there are conflicting witness accounts of the killing of michael brown. that so far those reports about the conflicting witness accounts conflict with the truth. the truth about what the witnesses have been saying is in tonight's rewrite. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] during the cadillac summer's best event, lease this 2014 ats
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governor of that state is publicly feuding with the district attorney who has jurisdiction over that shooting. we'll have more on all of that, next. ♪ in the nation, the safest feature in your car is you. add vanishing deductible from nationwide insurance and get $100 off for every year of safe driving. which for you, shouldn't be a problem. just another way we put members first, because we don't have shareholders. join the nation. nationwide is on your side. can you fix it, dad? yeah, i can fix that. (dad) i wanted a car that could handle anything. i fixed it! (dad) that's why i got a subaru legacy. (vo) symmetrical all-wheel drive plus 36 mpg.
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mcculloch today on the first day that a 12-member grand jury heard evidence in the shooting death of 18-year-old michael brown. he told the st. louis today newspaper that the grand jury was selected this past spring and it includes three african-americans. the prosecutor told reporters that his office has not interviewed darren wilson, the police officer who killed michael brown. today, he repeatedly addressed calls for his recusal and he had some very angry words for missouri governor jay nixon. >> the most devastating thing that can happen is if a week or month from now he decides he's taking me off this case. then everybody is starting over. so stand up, man up, stand up and say i have this authority. i'm not removing mcculloch, i am removing mcculloch, and let's get on this. this family deserves nothing less than that. >> later in the day when he was again asked about recusing himself, he choked up as he
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addressed the speculation that he is biased. >> i know the pain that goes with the loss of a loved one to violence. i know what it's like to look back years later and see what my mother had to put up with. raising the four of us without her husband and companion. and i know what it was like to look back and watch my mother grow old and die without the man she loved at her side. so i know the pain of that, and the fact that he was a police officer killed in the line of duty had nothing to do with any of that. what it did -- did it affect me? absolutely it affected me. what it did for me is made me, i think, a fierce advocate to the end of violence. i know what the brown family is going through right now. >> but protesters worry that experience made him a fierce advocate for police officers.
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and they do not have much confidence in mcculloch or his record on prosecuting police shootings. >> have you ever charged an officer criminally in a shooting? >> you know, right now i can't -- i don't know about a shooting. i know we've charged cases where there's a use of excessive force. whether that involved a shooting or not, off the top of my head, i say that and i can't think of any, but that's probably not a situation. >> joining me now is former prosecutor marcia clark, and also joining me is jim cavanaugh, former atf special agent in charge. marcia, i don't think people realize how unprecedented this situation is. attorney general flying in to a local jurisdiction like this at this stage, this early stage of an investigation. stimulating 40 fbi agents to do even more, while you have this district attorney going on
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talkradio angrily challenging the governor to man up and fire him. >> all of it is unprecedented. just to give you some kind of balance or to complete your perspective on this, when the rodney king trial happened, with four, five police officers being charged, riots happened as a result of that. the city burned. the doj did not show up. there was no talk about -- the district attorney was not facing off anybody. i just think his -- the way he's handling this right now is not a good idea. we need to inspire confidence and a sense of calm and dignity about the manner in which we proceed with this. to have them playing this game of you're a chicken, no, you're a chicken is the last thing we need. if the governor has the power, he should do whatever he chooses to do. but this is not good. >> jim cavanaugh, again, we've
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never seen anything like it. what would you suggest at this point that the district attorney, how the district attorney should conduct himself through this proceeding, assuming he's going to stay on the case? >> well, what i would say is, you know, the case needs to move expeditiously, not a rush to judgment, not sweeping or changing facts. but it needs to move expeditiously because it is a police shooting and a crisis situation for the community. we never handled big crisis in communities like an everyday case. it seems the time frame is being handled like any other everyday case, but it's not. i was one of the top commanders on the d.c. sniper case. when the sniper shot somebody in the middle of the night, we drove the bullet to the atf laboratory and had the bullet
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examined right now. we didn't put it in the cue for six or eight weeks, because that's normally the time it would take to do. it was a crisis. we had to react it. we were heleaders. i don't think you should make a decision if you don't have probable cause. i think if you do have probable cause, you should get a warrant, like marcia dasaid last night, d we agreed on, get a warrant, make an arrest if probable cause exists and then it should go through due process. we'll get justice. they might have to have a change of venue. the slow walking of it is what disturbs me the most and the public spat between the leaders is just unseemly. >> let's listen to what the governor said he expects of this district attorney. >> a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued. the county prosecutor and the attorney of the united states each have a job to do.
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their obligation to achieve justice in the shooting death of michael brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly. and i call upon them to meet those expectations. >> and the district attorney is saying that this governor has his mind made up about the case already. >> i don't know how he can say that based on the comments i'm seeing. i don't see that. if he does, if he's right, then the governor should stop talking about it. everybody should stop talking about it. there's no way we know yet. let's hear the evidence and the part of the problem i had with the grand jury is we won't. and i really think we should. i think that everyone should be able to hear it. that's why i was saying last night we ought to have a preliminary hearing where there's a public forum and everybody can hear what the witnesses have to say and see them examined and cross examined. that's what will inspire confidence and give people a sense they know what's going on, whether they like it or not. >> we're watching hive images of
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what's going on in ferguson right now. in the rain, not much going on. jim cavanaugh, as a former federal agent, tell me what it's like when the attorney general flies halfway across the country to show up to look over your shoulder how things are going in the investigation. that must be an energizing experience for the federal agents. >> well, it's a big deal. i've met eric holder a couple of times when he was the deputy attorney general in the clinton administration, when he was the attorney general. he's a great guy, a fine guy and he's a strong leader and he's a good lawyer. i have a lot of confidence in him. but yes, it's a big deal. i probably had contact with many of the attorney generals just brief 4ri in many of the past administrations. when i came on, the president was ford, so it's a very big deal, it's significant. i hope it will get some decisions made, because we do have dual sovereignty.
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>> thank you both for joining me tonight. up next, what president obama said about the beheading of an american journalist. and how video changes everything in police work. that's coming up. grandmother with the hotels.com loyalty program, she'll earn free nights. so they're not the same, because they're different. woman: jimmy's not my grandson, captain obvious. woman: man: he's my lover. no. that's keeping you from the healthcare you deserve.. at humana, we believe the gap will close when healthcare changes. when frustration and paperwork decrease. when healthcare becomes simpler. so let's do it. let's simplify healthcare. let's close the gap between people and care. moderate to severe is tough, but i've managed.
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it can help your business save money. false. the truth is when you compare our fastest internet to the fastest dsl from the phone company, comcast business gives you more for your money. why pay more for less? call today for a low price on speeds up to 150mbps. and find out more about our two-year price guarantee. comcast business. built for business. jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world. we will be vigilant and we will be relentless. when people harm americans
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anywhere, we do what's necessary to see that justice is done. >> tonight, we learned that the united states military carried out an attempt to rescue journalist james foley and other american hostages held in syria earlier this year. obviously the operation was not successful. today, intelligence confirmed that the video of the islamic state beheading james foley is authentic. now they're threatening to kill another american journalist unless the u.s. air strikes stop. the fear is how many militant fighters are western born with western passports? richard engel is in turkey tonight. >> reporter: isis is no longer a fringe terrorist group operating in the shadows. it controls territory, lots of it. the group now prefers to be called the islamic state. and in some ways it is like a state. just a terrible one. the so-called islamic state now
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stretches over huge swaths of syria and iraq. it has heavy weapons, american made ones, stolen from the iraqi army. and isis is imposing its medieval interpretation of islamic law. yet many are rushing to become citizens of this barbaric nation. the last voice james foley heard was of his murderer. with what some say sounds like a british accent. >> this is james foley, an american citizen of your country. >> reporter: britain's prime minister was appalled. >> it looks increasingly like it is a british citizen. now, this is deeply shocking. >> reporter: shocking, but not surprising at all. security officials say isis has between 7,000 and 12,000 foreign fighters, hundreds from europe, and one from america. >> we are coming for you. >> reporter: he died carrying out a suicide bombing for a group considered more violent
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than al qaeda. >> even a group like al qaeda, which has perpetrated atrocities around the world, regards them as far too brutal. >> reporter: a big reason there's so many foreign fighters in syria is it's so easy to get there. young men come to turkey, go to the border crossing and walk in. and turkish authorities are make nothing real effort to stop them. this man crossed from syria into turkey today. he knows a lot about foreign fighters. his own son was one of them. he says he was lured in, believing he would be helping muslims. >> you know, inside, step by step, they change their minds. >> reporter: radicalizing them. so dimitri did something radical yourself. you decided to find him yourself? >> that's the only solution. i couldn't stay at home. >> reporter: he went to syria, found his son and brought him out. now other parents are asked dimitri to help recover their
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children. he goes in at great personal risk and brings other family members with them to try and guilt the boys, guilt the foreign fighters into going home and returning with their families. it doesn't work very often and in over a year, he's only managed to bring out four foreign fighters and they were all replaced. lawrence? >> richard, thank you. seems to be that the americans in these situations are in greater risk because some other countries that have people over there in these kinds of risks have been paying ransoms to get them out. >> yes. the problem is this raid that the administration announced today was an effort to free these americans but there is no coherent strategy from the united states and its allies about how to respond to a growing number of kidnappings.
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there were french and spanish journalists held with james foley. they got ransomed. they're home, they're alive and their needs to be a unified approach. what's going on now with america not paying and others paying is not working. >> the millions paid in ransom helps finance what the islamic state is trying to do. >> one of the journalists kidnapped and transferred between different groups was an unfortunate part, a victim of a marketplace that's developed in kidnapping these people. you see a market growing. you see isis and other groups basically the taliban financing their operations with this kind of ransoming of important people. not just journalists but doctors, professors, lawyers, other professionals.
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so it's become a real problem. >> david, having experienced it, what would you suggest is the right policy? >> i think a coordinated policy. there's been positive developments in iraq in terms of u.s. air strikes. in mosul, this new government emerging, malaki being pushed i side. people are very cynical about the region, and i understand that. but there are moderates. the islamic state does not represent islam. they kill more muslims than any other group. it's disgusting what they did to james foley and they're doing that to many more muslims. we have to work together with local moderates to stop this group. >> david and steve, thank you both for joining me tonight. >> thank you. >> thank you. coming up, in the rewrite, the difference between good police reporting and bad police
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reporting. today, we had some very, very police reporting about witnesses supposedly offering conflicting versions of what happened to michael brown. and how cameras worn by police reduce police use of excessive force. that's coming up. eachwon't have a claim.wners that's why allstate claim free rewards gives you money back for every year you don't have one. and why if you're part of the other 5%, allstate offers claim rateguard. so your rates won't go up just because of a claim. no matter what comes your way, your home protects you.
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coming up next in the rewrite, something you're not going to get from most media outlets -- an accurate account, accurate, about what the witnesses are actually saying about the shooting of michael brown. an "all you can eat" buffet... and not a "have just a little" buffet. because what we all really want is more. now get our best ever pricing with the more everything plan. 1 gb of bonus data per month per line. verizon smart rewards to rack up points for the things you really want. and 50% off all new smartphones, like the htc one m8 for windows & android. built to inspire envy. come get your more with verizon. this is bill. his doubleheader day at the park starts with back pain... and a choice. take 4 advil in a day or just 2 aleve for all day relief.
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in tonight's rewrite, police reporting. good police reporters know when they're being used by the police. bad police reporters also know when they're being used by the police, but they eagerly report whatever the police want them to report. police reporting used to be a standard beat on american newspapers. but nothing is standard on
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american newspapers anymore as the death rattle of that industry gets louder and louder and the budget cuts become more severe and newspapers desperately clinging to readership by expanding their coverage of celebrities and food. "the new york times" today has six, six full pages devoted to food. everything you need to know about slow cooked brisket, cooking sticks and flat breads. nothing that has happened in ferguson, missouri can compete with food for coverage in "the times," which devoted about a page and a half with ferguson today. one was essentially a profile of attorney general eric holder, just pegged to his trip to ferguson today, and the other is a terribly misleading, badly crafted story about witnesses to the killing of michael brown. that story does not include a single reference to the person
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who, by all public accounts so far, remains the star witness in this case. a better witness might emerge, but that hasn't happened yet. that star witness, tiffany mitchell, told her story on this program. >> as i come around the corner, i hear tires squeaking. as i get closer, i see michael and the officer wrestling through the window. michael was trying to get away from him. the officer was trying to pull him in. as i pull out my phone, you just never see an officer, someone just wrestling through the window. as i pulled out my phone, the first shot walls fired through the window. and i just tried to get out the way. i pulled into the parking lot beside where the cop car was. that's when michael broke away and started running down the street. the officer gets out and pursues
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him. as he's following him, he's shooting at him. michael's body jerks as if he was hit. he turned around, puts his hands up, and the officer continues to walk up on him and shoot him. >> if you settled into your chair this morning to read the "times" account of what witnesses had said, you would not have read one word of what you just heard nor of the existence of tiffany mitchell. the first sentence of the story says "witnesses have given investigators sharply conflicting accounts of the killing." the times then presents witness accounts that do not sharply conflict. it simply asserts in the first sentence that the accounts sharply conflict and fails to demonstrate that. but that sentence is exactly what the police defenders of officer darren wilson wanted "the times" to print. that's what they need to get out
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there. just the belief that there are conflicting accounts by witnesses of the killing, and that there is someone out there who is in conflict with tiffany mitchell's testimony. "the times" makes it plain that the idea of conflicting witnesses comes from law enforcement sources. and in a profound and uncharacteristic flash offer responsibility, "the times" fails to produce a single witness who sharply conflicts with any other witness in the article. in "times" article, the lawyer for dorian johnson, who was walking with michael brown, tells his client's story for him. he says dorian johnson has been interviewed by the fbi and st. louis county for nearly four hours. he said that dorian johnson admitted that he and michael brown had had stolen from the store before the shooting. "the times" says this about how
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the action started on the street. "contrary to what federal witnesses have told law enforcement officials, the officer then reached out of the window with his left hand and grabbed mr. brown by the throat." "the times" begins that by saying contrary to what witnesses have told law enforcement officials, but they never tell you what the witnesses told the law enforcement officials. where does the contrary come from? do those witnesses disagree that the officer reached out of the window at all or do they disagree that the officer grabbed michael brown by the throat and some say he grabbed michael brown by the shoulder near the throat or by the arm or did some day he didn't grab michael brown at all? we have no idea. we're not allowed to judge whether there is a sharp
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disagreement there. the reporters who worked on this story accepted what law enforcement told them and they printed it. "the times" reporters quote only two witnesses directly. michael brady and james mcknight. and not one word that those two witnesses say in the article sharply conflicts with each other or with anything tiffany mitchell said. in fact, nothing they say conflicts in any way. not sharply, not slightly, not in any way. then there is the most egregious passage in "the new york times" article. office darren wilson's lawyer could not have written it better. it begins with what michael brady says he saw. "he said he did see a police officer get out of the patrol car and start walking briskly while firing on mr. brown as he fled." what happened next could be what
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the case turns on. what happened next? that could be what the case turns on? there's "the new york times" dismissing the first shots that the officer fired after getting out of the car as michael brown fled. that doesn't matter in this "new york times" account. law enforcement sources that the reporters were working with tricked them into thinking that what happens after that, what happens next is what the case turns on. not realizing that the shots fired while michael brown is fleeing, those shots, that is an illegal use of deadly force. that is a crime. the police officer had no legal right to shoot at michael brown while he was fleeing. the reporters don't know that. they think it's all about what happened next. and what happens next in the article is that the article gets much, much worse. "what happens next could be what the case turns on.
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several witnesses have told investigators that mr. brown stopped and turned around with his arms up. according to his account to the ferguson police, officer wilson said that mr. brown had lowered his arms and moved toward him. law enforcement officials said, fearing that the teenager was going to attack him, the officer decided to use deadly force." "the times" doesn't seem to realize the officer already decided to use deadly force when he fired the first shots. then comes the single worst line in the article. some witnesses have backed up that account. that's it. a simple declarative sentence, some witnesses have backed up that account. and "the new york times" does not produce or even refer to a
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single witness who backs up that account, not one. it just takes a leak from the police, and prints it as a fact. and it is used as a fact in "the times" to back up a very vague police description of what happened. "the times" says "officer wilson said mr. brown had lowered his arms and moved toward him," law enforcement officials said. what does that mean? what does "move toward him" mean? a half step, while falling from the bullets that officer wilson has already fired into michael brown? does it mean one or two step snls "the new york times" never tells you. "the new york times" doesn't know. moved toward him is all the clarity that you get from the new york times in depth reporting on this. that's all you get on that
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point. "the new york times" interviewed michael brady. why didn't they quote him on how michael brown moved toward the officer? listen to this description michael brady gave tonight about how michael brown moved toward the officer. >> by the time i get outside, he's already turned around, facing the officer. he's balled up, he has his arms like under his stomach and he was halfway down, like he was going down. and the officer lets out about three or four shots at him. so like i said, just like the body, i took a few pictures in the video, but how his body is on the ground with his arms tucked in, that's how he got shot or whatever. like i said before, he was already like this, and he look one or two steps going towards the officer and like i said, he
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let go three or four more shots at him. >> that's what michael brady means by moving toward the officer. michael brown stumbling two steps forward. as he's going down from the bullets already in his body, and as he continues to go down, the officer keeps firing. as we know from preliminary autopsy results, one of the bullets that killed michael brown went through the top of his skull. an objective, scientific finding that is completely consistent with what michael brady just described. "the new york times" normally uses the best reporting standards of any organization in the country. i've never seen "the new york times" used by police this way. "the new york times" is definitely going to have better days covering this story. i'm sure they will do more great work on this story, but they didn't do that today. like i said, there are good
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i would. switch to comcast business internet and get the fastest wifi included. comcast business. built for business. you're watching live video from the scene in ferguson, missouri right now. thunderstorms moved through the area. the rain has stopped. the protest marchers have resumed. we'll be right back with more. can you pick me up at 6:30? ah... (boy) i'm here! i'm here! (cop) too late. i was gone for five minutes! ugh! move it. you're killing me. you know what, dad? i'm good. (dad) it may be quite a while before he's ready, but our subaru legacy will be waiting for him. (vo) the longest-lasting midsize sedan in its class. introducing the all-new subaru legacy. it's not just a sedan. it's a subaru.
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video changes everything. especially in police work. when the world saw that beating of rodney king on video in 1991, most white americans were learning for the first time that that kind of thing happens in the united states. most african-americans already knew that. and they were horrified but completely unsurprised by that video. video is the best defense against bad police work. video is also the best evidence collector on a crime scene to help back up honest police accounts of what happened. many police departments now are routinely capturing video on dash board cameras in police vehicles and from body worn
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kamras. "the wall street journal" points out "the tragic irony is that ferguson -- police in ferguson have a stock of body worn cameras but have yet to deploy them to officers." joining me now is dr. charles capps, professor at arizona state university, studying the impact of body worn cameras. professor, tell us what you found about the use of these cameras and thousand they affect police use of force. >> yes. thank you for having me on the -- your show tonight. we've been working with the phoenix police department of the past year and a half or so, looking at the impact of body worn cameras on police misconduct and use of force, as well as its use as evidence in the courts. we're finding, as other researchers have found in the past, there's been a decline of 40% to 60% in officer misconduct among those who wear the body cameras. >> it also reduces the
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complaints of police use of excessive force, and part of that includes false complaints presumably. there are some false complaints about police use of excessive force. if you know that the police officer has video showing what happened, you're not going to try the false complaint of excessive force. >> correct. that's what really has been an interesting finding is really how frequently these types of issues come up. it's not uncommon to have an individual make an allegation. they'll file a complaint, unaware that a camera was on them. and the police department has the capacity to show the footage to the citizen or citizenry and try to address the problem in whatever way the citizen believes is the correct way to proceed forward or the police department can find common ground in how to address people's concerns. >> one california police department studied this and found that in 2013, complaints
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from the public dropped 80% from the previous year. use of force by the department's own reckoning dropped 60% from the previous year because -- and the only change in operation was the use of these cameras. >> correct. and that finding has been similar in the uk, canada, realto. the findings in realto, the impact appears to be substantially more than what we found in other communities. other communities, it's closer to 40% to 60%. in realto, we may want to see that as an extreme example given the problems the community face before the police department implemented the cameras. we had issues of bribery, the community was calling for the
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police department to be disband and and run by the sheriff's department. a new chief came in, implemented cameras and has been successful in reducing police misconduct. >> video really changes the situation. charles capps, thank you very much for joining us tonight. our coverage tonights now with chris hayes who is again live in ferguson, missouri. good evening from ferguson, missouri. i'm chris hayes. night has fallen here in ferguson, and we have seen a dramatic change here tonight. a real shift in the mood in ferguson at this hour. last night, officers didn't use tear gas, but there were tense standoffs happening in the streets. the night before, rocks being thrown at media, following days of chaotic scenes with police using tear gas and rubber bullets. tonight

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